Published: August 5, 2021
At Bridgewell, our team delivers on our mission to inspire hope and empower people experiencing life challenges to achieve their fullest potential.
One critical area of need for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is building independent living skills as they graduate, upon turning 22 years old, from residential educational environments. Bridgewell recently launched a pilot program in partnership with the Department of Development Services (DDS) designed to serve as a “bridge” model, helping individuals turning 22 transition from highly supervised environments with 24/7 direct supports, to living more independently in the community with fewer needed supports.
“There is a huge gap in support for individuals in this age group, and the need for skill-building among these individuals as they mature is massive,” said Andrea Ward, Bridgewell’s Residential Director of Individual Supports.
Based in Wakefield, the program provides participants with support on structuring an independent routine based on needs determined during a living skills assessment process. Bridgewell staff help participants create individual development goals and build independent living skills, such as meal planning and preparation, financial skills such as budgeting and paying bills, laundry, navigating the community, taking care of their health and coping strategies. Job skills training is also a key component of the program.
In addition to direct support from Bridgewell staff, program participants also benefit from cutting edge technology, including smart home technology and a care.coach digital platform, which provides a new channel of communication and care delivery in the home. The digital platform offers capabilities ranging from telemedicine to a 24/7 engaging avatar companion, all of which can be customized to meet a wide range of needs.
“Most young adults have the desire to live independently in their own space after they’ve finished school. I am excited to be part of this new Bridgewell service, supporting these young adults as they learn the skills to move into adulthood and live independently in their own space – whatever that may be for each of them,” said Jennifer Dinan, Bridgewell’s Residential Manager who oversees day to day operations of the program.
The program is intended for participants to be enrolled for 24-48 months with staff support, but then to “graduate” and be prepared to safely transition into the community, gain steady employment, and live as independently as possible. This is a new service for DDS and Bridgewell, with no other programs like it available in the North Shore area. Based on the learnings of this pilot program, we hope to grow and expand this individual support programming into other communities we serve in Metro North.